UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH
Program for Cultural Studies
Departments of Religious Studies and Theatre Arts
Beckett Professor of Drama Emeritus in Trinity College Dublin
_Assisting belief: ritual and the spectator_
Cathedral of Learning 142 (Yugoslav Room) at 5.00 pm Free and open to the public
Wednesday, 2 April 2008
The dominant approach to ritual in performance studies was established by Richard Schechner under the influence of the anthropologist Victor Turner.
Through the concepts of "efficacy" and "restored behavior," Schechner emphasized ritual as a performative action, that is, an action whose value depends on the proper expression of the behavior, "despite the duplicity, or worse, of those undertaking them." What happens when a participant does believe? How does belief affect the experience of attending a performance of any type? This talk investigates the relationship of belief and the spectator through two religious rituals: teyyam from Kerala (a divine-possession performance) and the Christian eucharist (a divine-appearance performance).
Dennis Kennedy is Beckett Professor of Drama Emeritus in Trinity College Dublin. His books include The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance; Looking at Shakespeare: a visual history of twentieth-century performance; Foreign Shakespeare; and Granville Barker and the Dream of Theatre. The Spectator and the Spectacle: audiences in modernity and postmodernity is due in 2008 from Cambridge, and Shakespeare and the Director in 2009 from Oxford. He has held distinguished visiting professorships at the Chinese Central Academy of Drama, the National University of Singapore, the Salzburg Seminar, McMaster University, the University of Victoria, the University of Wisconsin, and in 2008 at UCSB.
He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and Academia Europaea. He is also a professional playwright and dramaturg. In the last few years he directed As You Like It in Beijing, The Caucasian Chalk Circle in Dublin, and is currently preparing to direct The Merchant of Venice in a collaboration with the Estonian scenographer Lilja Blumenfeld.